(ORDO NEWS) — Microplastic contamination has been found in human organs. Although scientists do not fully understand the effects of plastic on human health, the authors of the new study fear that tiny particles of plastic may increase the risk of infertility and cancer.
Experts from Arizona State University have shown in their work that tiny plastic particles can penetrate human tissues and organs. Previous studies have shown that microplastics are able to enter the human body and animals and pass through the gastrointestinal tract.
However, the latest work suggests for the first time that plastic particles can also accumulate in human organs, including the kidneys, liver and lungs. Although the exact effects of this accumulation on human health are poorly understood, experts have linked microplastic contamination to inflammation, infertility and cancer in animals.
“You can find plastics that pollute the environment just about anywhere in the world,” said article author and biologist Charles Rolsky of Arizona State University. “Over the course of several decades, we stopped thinking of plastic as a miraculous blessing and began to see it as a threat.”
In their study, Rolsky and colleagues examined 47 human tissue samples. These included tissues taken from the kidneys, liver, lungs, and spleen – four organs that were thought to have been exposed to, filtered, or accumulated microplastic particles.
To prove the presence of microplastics in these tissues, the team developed their own technique, which includes Raman analysis to identify a variety of materials, including polycarbonate, polyethylene, and polyethylene terephthalate.
Polycarbonate is used to make cases for laptops and mobile phones, CDs, DVDs, and safety glass, while different types of polyethylene can be found in almost everything from plastic sheeting to drain pipes and bulletproof vests. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used to make clothing fibers, plastic bottles and food containers.
The team found that plastic was present in every tissue sample they analyzed. Scientists say that since human tissue samples were taken from donors, doctors will be able to trace potential sources of plastic through a special history.
Now the authors of the study point out that there is no need to panic, despite the fact that they have proven that microplastics can indeed accumulate in human tissues. First, they say, epidemiological studies need to be conducted to assess the effects on human health.
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